I’m writing today in reflection of the tutoring process. Although my sessions with Kim will continue beyond the length of EDU 832, I’m taking a moment today to scoop up what the process has to offer at this point in time. Kim and I began our journey about three months ago. We picked up and put down three books before settling on our current book, If I Stay. This alone was a learning opportunity for me.
I set out on a path complete with topics and books of interest to Kim, some on her reading level, some a bit beyond her independent level and some she chose on her own, while a couple I had brought to offer. Despite all of these components, none of them seemed to influence Kim as much as whether or not the text grabbed her and held her interest. For example, The Fault in Our Stars seemed to be a great match for Kim. She started the book out with enthusiasm and gusto. Within two weeks her steem had run out and she ditched the book. I tried to encourage her to give some books more time, but I began to understand that what Kim needed most in a book was a story that grabbed her and held her curiosity, her desire to read on and to find out more. I also discovered that despite my attempts, my loyalty in our sessions together and my endless attempts to build her confidence, I could not find the story that would help Kim to become a reader. She needed to discover this joy herself. I hope that Kim has found this is her current selection; time will tell.
Despite my attempts to help Kim, I could not make her enjoy reading. I could not compensate for the fact that reading isn’t a common acivity of value in her home and I could not compensate for the fact that Kim did not find delight in the enchanting possiblities of books and the stories they share when she was a child. What I found was a student who was a couple of grades below in her reading level and it wasn’t because she couldn’t read or struggled with the skills she needed to be a successful reader. It seemed to be that Kim simply hadn’t found a passion for reading up to this point.
Our time together revealed her lack of vocabulary base, which is likely due to her lack of being read to consistently as she was growing up and her lack of independent reading practices now that she is older. These are hard areas to fill in or compensate for if Kim is not willing to read on her own. I believe that only Kim can do this for herself and my role is to continue my efforts in motivating her and offering oppourtunities for her to discover the joys of reading on a personal level. Problems such as, her exposure to new words, will begin to mend when Kim begins to increase the amount of time she is reading every day.
There were a few helpful changes that seemed to make a difference with Kim’s motivation to read. First of all, allowing her the freesom to cast uninteresting books aside until she found one that carried her curiosity beyond the first few chapters, allowed her the time and discovery she needed to find the right book. Involving a friend in the reading of that magical book was what seemed to help Kim stay tuned into the book for the duration. Not only did Kim and her friend participate during our small literature circle, but they also were allowed to buddy read during their silent sustained reading block, which met twice a week for 20 minutes. The last piece that I found helpful was my persistence. I came prepared to meet with Kim twice a week, every week and regardless of whether we were in limbo, searching for the right read, or moving along with If I Stay, we met, we discussed where Kim was along this reading journey and what move we were going to make next and why. I believe this persistence and encouraging Kim to keep searching for that magical read were very important.
Unfortunately, I do believe the desire to read is critical. Witout the desire, it becomes very hard to address some of the existing gaps. I experienced first hand, how very important it is for our students to find the joy and rewards reading has to offer. We can encourage and try without hesitation to create this catch for our students, but without it, I can’t help but agree with them; that reading just becomes a whole lot of struggle without much enjoyment! The moral of the story is, be passionate about reading, encourage your students to find this passion for themselves – whatever it takes, and be aware of your students’ past – look at what they and you, are up against and perservere! The rewards are worth it for both your students and you! After all, isn’t this why we decided to teach in the first place!